By Chetan Chandak
Almost everybody knows that filing income tax return is equally as important as paying your taxes. If you fail to file your tax returns, you might have to face one of the many penalties, even if you have paid your taxes on time. Filing your income tax return becomes both a moment of fear and pride for first-time taxpayers.
As the income tax return filing season is at its peak, it is important to be aware of the essential dos and don’ts of tax filing that you should keep in mind while filing your returns. If you do not already know about the things that you should and shouldn’t do while filing your ITR, read the following lists to ensure that you do not make any mistakes that might earn you a notice from the I-T Department.
Tax season is one of the great reasons to stay organised and keep all the documents ready and easily accessible if the need arises. There are certain details that you need to fill out while filing your tax returns, which can be hectic, especially if you are a businessman or self-employed. In order to make the entire process easy, keep all the old tax receipts, investment records, receipts of income and other tax documents, in place. It is also important as you may be required to produce all these documents in case your return is selected for scrutiny.
Choose the right ITR Form
It is very important to know which ITR form to file depending upon the income that you receive. There are different conditions that will make it easy to determine which form is applicable to your income type. Once you know which ITR form is applicable to you, you can easily file your tax returns and no longer feel confused.
Re-check your calculations
It is always a good idea to go throw your ITR form after you are done filling in the details. This will give you time to review the form and make sure that all the numbers are correct and as per the numbers shown on your Form 16.
Verify Form 26AS
Form 26AS includes all the tax related information (TCS, TDS, Refund, etc.). Therefore, it is essential to verify your Form 26AS for determining the amount that has already been deposited on your behalf by other people after deducting taxes. It also helps you in ensuring that you do not forget to report any income which can lead to notices from the tax department and can even lead to the imposition of penalties.
Report all your incomes
This is one of the most common mistakes people often make, ignoring income from other sources. There are certain categories of income that fall under the head ‘Income from other sources’, and it is very important for you to report this on your tax return form while filing it even though it is not reported in your 26AS.
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Keep track of all your TDS and taxes paid by you
Most of your income might have been subjected to TDS when you receive it; it is also probable that sometimes this TDS may not reflect correctly in your 26AS because of a mistake by the deductor. Remember 26AS is just for reconciliation so don’t just rely on it. If you have the proof of tax deducted at source, then you can claim the credit even if it is not reflected in your 26AS. Further, if you have paid the taxes in the form of advance tax or self assessment tax, don’t miss to enter the details of it in your tax return, otherwise the tax department will not acknowledge it.
Verify ITR after E-filing
It is important to successfully e-file your income tax return, but your job isn’t over yet. It is mandatory to sign and send the ITR-V to CPC Bangalore by ordinary or speed post only, within 120 days of e-filing your tax return. Alternatively, you can even e-verify your ITR-V via Netbanking, Aadhaar Card or by using EVC on mobile number and email. Processing of your tax return starts only after the I-T Department receives your ITR-V. Thus, if you are expecting a refund and if you do not verify your return within the given time, your refund will get delayed.
Making a mistake in TAN, Bank Account number, Email address, etc.
There are a lot of details that are essential for correct and timely processing of your return and consequent refunds.
1. Making a mistake in bank details (viz. Name, IFSC code, the Account number in which you want your refund) can lead to failure of refund credit.
2. Quoting a wrong TAN number may lead to denial of TDS credit which can lead to a lower refund or even tax payable.
3. If you make a mistake in your postal address or email, you may not receive any communication from the tax department like notices, refund cheque, etc.
4. Quoting a wrong mobile number may mean that you will not receive important information on the processing of your return and refund.
Avoid such mistakes by reviewing and verifying the information once you have entered the details.
Forget to claim deductions
Deductions are important if you want to reduce your tax liability. The government has introduced a lot of deductions u/s 80 of the I-T Act. Claim and avail the tax deductions even if you were not able to submit the proofs to your employer, these are allowed in the ITR. If you do not claim these deductions while filing the ITR, the department will not allow it.
Un-reporting exempt income
A lot of people make the mistake of not reporting the income that is exempt from taxes. It is advisable to report income exempt from taxes, such as dividends, PPF interest and Long Term Capital Gains. Report such incomes to avoid complications in ITR processing.
Wait until the last minute
Don’t start working on your tax returns a few days before the last date of filing your ITR. Even if you think you will be able to make it through with filing the returns, it is, however, more likely that you make silly mistakes or forget to mention something important, for example, tax credits, by procrastinating.
Don’t use last year’s number
Many times taxpayer get confused between Financial Year and Assessment Year and they end-up entering the details of one financial year against the return for another financial year which may lead to many complications and tax liability. So ensure that you select and file your return in correct tax forms.
By keeping this list of dos and don’ts in the back of your mind, while filing your tax returns, you can make your tax filing go smoothly, and there will be no complications with your tax return. If you still come to realise that you have made a mistake, after filing your tax returns, the I-T department gives you a chance to revise your tax returns and resubmit it.
(The author is Head of Tax Research, H&R Block India)